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Proposed Bill to Clamp Down on Copper Sales

Susan Britt

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By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

A bill, sponsored by Chairman Ben Brooks (R-Mobile) and Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), pertaining to metal thefts bill was adopted in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Under an existing law, secondary metal recyclers are required to maintain certain information regarding purchases of metal property.
SB 35 would expand those requirements saying, “a secondary metals recycler upon request of the sheriff or chief of police to provide notice and identifying information to law enforcement” concerning:

When the person delivering the metal is not the same person receiving consideration.
When a secondary metals recycler intends to conduct business of certain information concerning the business as well as authorize law enforcement to inspect the proposed site.
Would prohibit certain metals from being sold or purchased unless written documentation is provided that the seller is indeed the owner.
Would prohibit purchasing metal from persons under 18 years of age.
Would require the secondary metal recycler to pay by check.

The bill also provides criminal penalties for persons not abiding by these rules.

Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran gave his view from law enforcement perspective. He said, ” We have had a terrible problem with metal thefts across the state and particularly in Mobile County.”
He said the the current methods of obtaining records from secondary metal recyclers are hard to get to and hard to decipher so he had suggested the use of electronic reporting.
Cochran said, “Then law enforcement could see who is selling these metals and what kinds of metals without having to visit every facility. It will help particularly when they cross county lines to sell the items.

The bill would prohibit sale of certain items unless under special circumstances, as follows:

Prohibit air conditioner systems, the a-coils unless they are a licensed contractor
Prohibits selling of telecommunications wire or other types of wire that have been burned
Prohibits the sale of catalytic converters unless part of a whole vehicle or car recycler selling multiple catalytic converters
Prohibits sale of man hole covers and storm drain covers

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The secondary metal recycler must take pictures of the persons that they are purchasing the items from in the list above. Cochran said that they will be required to “get good ID and identification of the vehicles.”

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The bill also requires anybody buying scrap metals to be properly licensed.

Brooks said, “This is going to set up an immediate on whose buying with pictures and ID. It increases the penalties for the theft, control or possession. If you have certain items that will be a felony.” He said the reason they would be classified as a felony is because “many of these things [put the public] highly at risk. If you can imagine a family traveling down a street where a manhole cover has been stolen and the tire goes off into that hole, it is going to kill somebody.”

The bill will pass through the Rules Committee on the way to the Senate Floor for debate.

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